Former S.F. health commissioner pleads not guilty to spreading HIV

By Editors

Originally published on September 27 2003 12:00 AM ET

Former San Francisco health commissioner Ronald Gene Hill, 46, on Thursday pleaded not guilty to deliberately exposing two people to HIV. Hill was arrested and jailed on $100,000 bond on September 17, five days after a grand jury indicted him. Hill's former lover, Thomas Lister, 38, sued Hill in 2001 for lying about his HIV-positive status when they were dating in 2000. The suit claimed that Lister discovered, while the two were on a cruise in July 2000, that Hill was taking anti-HIV medications. Several months later Lister tested positive for HIV. Lister was awarded $5 million in a civil suit in March 2002.

Hill is now charged under a seldom-used 1998 California law that makes knowingly and intentionally exposing others to HIV a felony, punishable by up to eight years in prison. Twenty-five states have such laws; California's requires prosecutors to prove the defendant acted "with specific intent" to transmit the infection. Lister and another man told the grand jury that Hill exhibited a pattern of soliciting sex partners and repeatedly telling them he was not infected. Hill's bail hearing will be held September 30.